While Will Clark was overshadowed by Kevin Mitchell at the time, this is now my favorite signed card from my Philadephia trip. Yes I have a good story with the Mitchell card, but the Will Clark experience is funnier.
Well, funnier in hindsight. Of all the players whose autographs I was trying to get that trip, Clark was probably the most intimidating. As intense as he was on the field, he kind of gave off that intensity off the field too. In short, he was an asshole. But he was my team’s asshole.
So it’s funny now picturing the kid all kitted up in Mets gear who Clark met with an “I don’t like the Mets” comment.* Poor guy visibly blanched and panicked. And it’s funny thinking about the poor lobby clerk who didn’t recognize him so instead of showing his ID he brusquely called a kid over to the desk, curtly held the baseball card up, signed it and gave it back to the nervous but jubilant kid.
*Note, Clark still signed for him.
I took that he smiled at me because I was kitted up in Giants gear* as a sign that I was doing everything right.
*Knowing what I know about Philadelphia fans now I should probably have a conversation with my mom about this.
It also helps that I never got another Clark signature over years of effort. The more I tried for another card or ball the more I appreciated the one I had. Still, I did get the ball as a gift years later. No idea from where or who actually but I’m reasonably sure it’s legit.
The further I’ve aged away from my childhood collecting days the more I’ve realized that I’m a Will Clark fan. He was the guy for all the teams of my youth. My first game was on 1986 when he’d burst onto the scene. And the 1994 strike means that my last true childhood season was that wonderful 1993 season with its heartbreaking pennant race. By the time I returned to the game the Giants were Barry Bonds’s team and, while I was still a fan my feelings are much more complicated about those seasons.
But with Will every card or bit of memorabilia reminds me of being a kid. I love that I
have had* a 1989 Mitchell and Ness Clark jersey. And I love that I have a burgeoning Will Clark player collection of baseball cards. It’s not a comprehensive gotta-have-them-all collection but I’m adding to it as I come across issues I’ve not seen or heard of.
*Between the date I wrote this post and the day I actually published it my Will Clark jersey got stolen.